Just arriving back to the Kampala Serena Hotel after a breathtaking day at the Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI). And in accordance with my expectations, as I wrote already yesterday, the strongest impact was from visiting the so called IDI friends in their homes. But more on that later...
We started out by making a tour of the Mulago Hospital, which is located directly adjecent to IDI.
We also got a nice view of the Makerere University, which also is part of a strong cluster of competencies around IDI.
We then toured the IDI operations. Everything from the R&D operations, via the treatment facilities and the training center, to the so called Marketplace. Although the R&D activities are extremely strong, the cure for HIV/AIDS and TB patients of course critical, the training center vital for building health care capacity around in Africa, it was nevertheless the Marketplace that really made me understand how important the IDI is. At the Marketplace the patients and their families and carers help one another with daily matters. Today when we passed through their was a training session on dying fabrics.
The Marketplace was crowded with people, as were many other parts of IDI. The place is really making a difference in peoples lifes! And I became even more clear on that when we split up the group of Pfizer colleagues and accompanying journalists into smaller teams and followed the IDI friends to their homes. And as I said in the beginning of today's blog article - this visit made an extremely strong impact.
My team followed Rachel to her home. Rachel is 28 years of age and has AIDS. She has been sick since the early 90-ties and been under medication at IDI since 2005. Such an incredible strong person! She works as a volonteer at IDI, e.g. giving traing on the need of using condoms to be safe. She also helps people to manage the stigma of being HIV/AIDS-infected.
I am so impressed by the strength Rachel has. And by the attitude of "not giving up" although she is ill and lives in an environment that is so chocking to me and other poeple from the "Western world"... Rachel told me that "I just cannot give up. The day I give up - then I could lay down and die..." I guess we all have things to learn from that!
Rachel and her husband, Constantin, were very friendly and open to us. They told their stories of life - about HIV infection, about lost children and relatives dead in AIDS - but still with open and welcoming hearts.
Sitting in their extremely small and narrow house, listening to their stories, probably will change the way I see life. It is as I wrote when leaving for Uganda yesterday:
“a life changing experience - you will just not ever again see things the way you did before the visit…”
Tomorrow we will see more of Pfizer's Investments in Health, our global philanthropic platform. Focus tomorrow will be the International Trachoma Initiative, followed by the Diflucan Partnership Program on Thursday.